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Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik

A Quarterly of Language, Literature and Culture

[Journal of English and American Studies]

Ed. by Butter, Michael / Eckstein, Lars / Frenk, Joachim / Georgi-Findlay, Brigitte / Herbst, Thomas / Korte, Barbara / Leypoldt, Günter / Reinfandt, Christoph / Stefanowitsch, Anatol

4 Issues per year

CiteScore 2017: 0.07

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.123
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.323

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Volume 63, Issue 2


The Black Man’s Burden? – Language and Political Economy in a Diglossic State and Beyond

Joseph T. Farquharson
Published Online: 2015-06-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zaa-2015-0016


The article looks at language as capital, with particular reference to the Jamaican language, highlighting the parallels and interactions between the economic and linguistic systems. In the ongoing discourse on language in Jamaica, Jamaican Creole has generally been viewed as a problem. It is normally the first excuse offered for why many Jamaican children do poorly in English in high-stakes examinations, and is often seen as a hindrance to social and economic advancement both locally and internationally. By looking at the expansion of the language in several ‘new’ domains, and drawing on research in linguistics which deals with this expansion, the article argues that Jamaican has been undergoing a revaluation which has the potential to place economic power in the hands of its speakers. This project is important because the Jamaican language has normally been viewed as a burden for Black Jamaicans. The word burden in the title is being used not in the sense of an onerous task which one is obligated to do, but in the sense of a hindrance, something one should get rid of. The question mark signals that I wish to interrogate the perspective which labels the language as an obstacle for its speakers.

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About the article

Corresponding author: Dr. Joseph T. Farquharson, Center for InterAmerican Studies (CIAS), University of Bielefeld, 33501 Bielefeld, Germany, e-mail:

Published Online: 2015-06-03

Published in Print: 2015-06-01

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Volume 63, Issue 2, Pages 157–177, ISSN (Online) 2196-4726, ISSN (Print) 0044-2305, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zaa-2015-0016.

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